Luxury fashion brands open web stores

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The Web site for Marc Jacobs, the flamboyant fashion designer with an estimated $5 billion brand, has many things: stylish videos of employees describing their jobs, footage from elite fashion shows and parties, and even a photo of the company’s president staring down a camel in Egypt.

One thing it does not have: clothes for sale.

In the genteel world of luxury, companies long felt that the Web was no place for merchandising exclusive products. And there was a gentlemen’s agreement with department stores not to siphon sales by reaching out directly to wealthy customers.

Then, in came the recession, and out went the niceties. Department stores slashed prices on $1,200 handbags, while luxury lines fretted about losing their exclusivity. Now, come September, is going retail, 10 years after most brands opened Web showrooms.


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